SHILLONG, Sep 05: The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government in attempting to maintain a balance between the need to carry out coal mining activities while at the same time putting the preservation of the environment as a high priority, according to Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma.
“It is very important for our government and I can assure you that we are not going to compromise in any way when it comes to the environment and safety of the miners as that is something which is a priority for us. But at the same time we cannot allow the mining to be stopped and take away the livelihood of the people. This is where the challenges lies and we are trying to bridge this gap,” Conrad Said on Wednesday.
He also said that the government wants to ensure there is no specific loss in terms of employment or any kind of assets to the people of the state and at the same time also ensuring that steps are taken to protect the environment.
In this regard, Conrad expressed his satisfaction over the response of the Centre on the issue of resolving the ongoing NGT ban on coal mining in the state wherein he said that the state government in the last six months is trying to bring everything on track and is trying to take up on certain areas which are yet to be clarified by both the Centre and the State.
His statement also came a day after opposition Congress slammed the MDA government for its alleged failure to resolve the ban on coal mining.
Commenting on this, Conrad said that the coal ban actually started off with the issue of environmental aspect but in the process issues relating to ownership, miners, MMDR Act also came and ended up complicating the issue.
“In the process, there was a lot of communication gap between State and the Centre, so things started drifting away in a not very constructive and positive way,” he said.
Stating that it is a complex issue as there is multiple ministries and multiple issues involved, Conrad said, “Therefore it requires a lot of work to be coordinated between the Centre and the State and it is not an easy task to get ministry of mines, ministry of coal, ministry of environment, and home ministry all the officio and ministers all on board. However, we are very focus and hope that we are able to find a solution to this.”
Earlier, the state government had also passed an official resolution urging the Centre to invoke Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India through a presidential notification to exempt the state from the provisions of Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, 1973 and Mines and Minerals (Development Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957.
Asked about this, Conrad informed that issues relating to Coal Mines Nationalisation Act have been resolved as the Act has been repealed recently.
“In the process, I am happy to tell you that the Coal Nationalisation Policy has been repealed, about four months ago. I told you we have been working hard on this so this matter has been resolved,” he said.
However stating that the provision of the MMDR Act is still applicable to the state, the chief minister said the state government has also sought permission to exempt the state from the provisions of the MMDR Act.
“I am positive and hopeful that this particular issue will also take shape but it is incorrect for me to give a statement on the status on this regard but I can tell the work is on and let us hope for a positive result,” he said.